JOHN HOWARD’S bid for the vice-presidency of the International Cricket Council hit a major – and possibly terminal – hurdle after Zimbabwe sought to convince fellow council members that the former prime minister did not have appropriate support.The Herald understands Zimbabwe, full-voting members of the ICC, told delegates at a meeting in Dubai that Howard did not have the backing of New Zealand, despite that country jointly nominating him for the vice-presidency along with Australia.Cricket New Zealand is believed to have reiterated its support for Howard – despite initially pushing for a homegrown candidate, Sir John Anderson – but the matter might not end there.An ICC vote on the vice-presidency was deferred to a later date after several members were unable to attend the meeting due to flight restrictions caused by Iceland’s volcanic eruptions. Under the ICC’s rotational policy, an Australasian nominee will take over the ICC vice-presidency in 2010, and ascend to the presidency in 2012.ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat last night denied Zimbabwe were behind a move to block Howard’s nomination, but confirmed ”clarifications were being sought”.”It was felt clarity on the matter was needed and it will be discussed in the coming weeks,” Lorgat told the Herald.Howard was a vocal critic of Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe – a patron of Zimbabwe Cricket – during his time in office. In 2007, Howard took the dramatic step of banning Australia’s cricket team from touring the African nation to avoid Ricky Ponting’s men being ”used as propaganda by this appalling regime”.”I don’t think it’s fair to leave a foreign policy decision of this magnitude on the shoulders of young sportsmen,” Howard said at the time. ”I hope the rest of the cricketing world understands that it would be a very good idea if the rest of the cricketing world adopted the same attitude towards Mugabe’s regime.”The ban was the first of its type since 1972, when tours to South Africa were prohibited. Zimbabwe reacted angrily to the decision, denouncing the move as ”desperate” and ”racist”.”This is also a racist ploy to kill our local cricket since our cricket team is now dominated by black players as we slowly transform cricket from being an elite sport,” Zimbabwe’s junior information minister, Bright Matonga, said of Howard’s decision.Zimbabwe have historically enjoyed the voting support of ICC members from the so-called Afro-Asian bloc, and a move to block Howard’s bid for the vice-presidency at the council’s next meeting cannot be discounted.The Herald understands the ICC has no process in place to deal with the black-balling of a presidency nomination, given that regional nominations in the past have always been rubber stamped by the council.
Nanjing Night Net